Becca Slotkin, a third-year Child Clinical student, graduated from Vassar College with degrees in Drama and Psychology. While attending Vassar, Becca helped facilitate several research methods classes as a teaching/research assistant. She also completed a senior thesis on the potential priming effects of sexist internet jokes on gender attitudes. After graduation, Becca completed two years of research at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy where she worked on longitudinal intervention studies, including the Fast Track project and the Prospective Study of Infant Development. While at Duke, she discovered her interest in peer relations and social emotional learning during childhood, which inspired her to pursue a clinical research degree to further explore social emotional learning interventions.
While exploring graduate programs, Becca found that her interests particularly aligned with Dr. Karen Bierman’s research, which, in addition to the strong interdisciplinary and collaborative orientation of the Penn State Clinical Psychology program, brought her to Penn State. Becca’s research interests broadly relate to the relationship between peer socialization and internalizing behaviors in youth. Under the advisership of Dr. Bierman, her master’s thesis explored whether a social skills intervention for children who have experienced peer rejection would also help parent-child and/or parent-school relationships. She found that the intervention did have an impact on parent-child relationships, as well as specific factors like a student’s relationship with their teacher and how well-liked they were by peers. These factors then led to improvements in the relationship between parents and schools.
Becca is currently developing the next direction for her research. She will be starting to work with data from the Head Start REDI project, which will allow her to potentially investigate the role of communication in parent-child and peer relationships for older children. In the future, Becca intends to pursue a career that combines her research and clinical interests, such as working as a researcher and clinical supervisor at a university similar to Penn State.